Anti-children trafficking crusade hots up in Lake zone regions

Anti-children trafficking crusade hots up in Lake zone regions

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl named Cinderella. She lived with her wicked stepmother and two stepsisters. Poor Cinderella had to work hard all day long so the others could rest.

It was she who had to wake up each morning when it was still dark and cold to start the fire. It was she who cooked the meals. It was she who kept the fire going. The poor girl could not stay clean, from all the ashes and cinders by the fire... That is a beginning of Cinderella story, a folk tale with thousands of variants throughout the world.

The protagonist is a young woman living in forsaken circumstances that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune, with her ascension to the throne via marriage. Cinderella story depicts lives of tens of millions of women and girls around the world who are employed as domestic workers in households.

They clean, cook, care for children, look after elderly family members, and perform other essential tasks for their employers. However, despite their important role, they are among the most exploited and abused workers in the world.

They often work 14 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for wages far below the minimum wage. According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 60 million domestic workers around the world provide essential services so others can work outside their homes, keeping markets and economies working globally.

Most, though not all, domestic workers are women and the vast majority is from the poorer sections of society. Domestic workers are one of the groups most vulnerable to exploitation, violence, harassment, and forced labour. Around the world, workers who work in isolation, where nobody is watching, are particularly vulnerable to violence and harassment at work. The ILO estimates 67 million people are employed as domestic workers globally.

This number is steadily growing worldwide. In 2010, conservative estimates found 52.6 million people doing this work, accounting for 3.6 per cent of global wage employment. However, since domestic workers are undercounted in labour force surveys, the numbers could be far higher.

According to the ILO report of 2014, in Tanzania, the number of domestic workers is estimated to be over one million, where 883,779 are from the mainland Tanzania and 203,622 in Zanzibar, constituting five percent of the working population. Domestic work is characterized by excessive working hours, extremely low pay or no pay at all, and conditions that make the profession exploitative in many cases.

For children, domestic work keeps them out of school and deprives them of a childhood. A Mwanza based-nongovernment organisation, WOTESAWA (WS), is taking steps to protect the welfare of domestic workers through legal and economic empowerment as well as child abuse monitoring, safe housing and safe housing.

The Executive Director of the NGO, Angela Benedicto, says in supporting domestic workers, her organization has so far taken many steps, including recruiting and training groups of domestic workers.

“We are an active member of civil society networks at national, regional and global levels and communities of practice on domestic work, child rights and child trafficking. We envisage a better tomorrow for domestic workers and victims of human trafficking, challenged by poverty and marginalization,” says Ms Benedicto.

She says her organization since its establishment in the period of ten years, a lot had been changed. She says WS devised a number of intervention strategies including, but not limited to awareness rising, economic empowerment, legal and policy reforms, and offering of shelter services to domestic labor.

“Over 300,000 people have been reached through different interventions like training, mass media, community dialogue and legal aid,” she says. She explained that a total of 15,721 community members (8,757-male and 6,964 females) were reached through community dialogue sessions and were informed how to prevent, respond and protect children against abuse, exploitation and child trafficking.

As a result, she says the community members are now taking action against abuse and exploitation and human trafficking issues. A total of 3,540 children (2,360-girls and 1,180-boys) were informed on child safeguarding, child trafficking and consequences of child labour through establishment of 188 school clubs in Ngara district, where currently all established school clubs are creating awareness campaign against children abuse and human trafficking.

She says a total of 2,672 rural based parents were informed on positive parenting skills and child safeguarding strategies. “Parents are now responsible for enrolling their children to school and providing them with school materials,” she says

In the legal and policy frameworks at the Local government authorities and nation levels, she says a total of 2,573 Police Officers have been informed on strategies and how to respond on issues facing domestic workers and victims of human trafficking in urban areas, where currently police officers are positively responding against domestic workers abuse and human trafficking issues.

A total of 522 local government officials from the three regions of Mwanza, Kigoma and Dodoma where the organization works were also informed about domestic workers rights and they know how to provide quality services to domestic workers, victims of human trafficking and the community at large.

“In the 10 years of our existence 138, 125 females and 13 males’ victims of trafficking have been rescued and re-unified with their families, among them, 42 school age children have been enrolled to school while the rest have been provided with start-up capital for income generating activities,” she says.

She says within the decade, the organization has also introduced training on human trafficking to 5,625 people including police officers, migration officers, local government leaders, religious leaders, social welfare officers, bus agents and conductors. Explaining her journey to school, Aneth Faraja (10) girl from Lukuba village, Misenyi district in Kagera region says she dropped out from school and was taken to Mwanza in 2018 to be engaged in domestic worker activities.

She says she worked in Mwanza for two years without being paid and she decided to escape from her employer’s household due to abuses and exploitation. WS came for rescue in early 2020 and provided her with temporary shelter at the organization safe house. Upon completion of family tracing by WS, Aneth was reintegrated back at Lukuba Village to her grandmother Emirian Rwekaza, who had lost hope of seeing her granddaughter again.

“I am very happy to be enrolled back to school though I am repeating the class but it doesn’t matter, I will study hard to one day achieve my dream of being a medical doctor,” she says adding that she wants to serve her community by providing medical services and protecting them from diseases.

“I believe every child has a dream and a right to equitable access to education regardless of their social economic status,” she says. Kassim Nyambui, a bus agent is now an anti-children trafficking agent. He says he was a bus agent at Ngara town bus stand for different companies, where his daily duties were to issue tickets to passengers traveling to different areas including Kahama, Bukoba, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam and working in the transport sector for 19 years.

He says before attended anti-trafficking in Persons training in February last year which was organized by WS at Kabanga in Ngara district, it was common for him to issue tickets for children, who were coming individually or in groups or accompanied by adults, without questioning.

He said during the training he agreed with WS and partners to rescue children victims of trafficking, he started asking questions to children or adults accompanying children who were buying bus tickets from him.

“From 10th February to July, 2020 more than 80 children (including less than 14 years of age and school children) were rescued, reunified and re-enrolled in school,” he says adding that, among them there are children who are coming from Burundi who have been reintegrated under the support of Ngara District Migration Officer.

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Author: From NASHON KENNEDY in Mwanza

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